Month: September 2016

My MBA – an unlearning and learning experience

Selecting a school for my MBA is one of the most important decisions I’ve had to make. Even when I had read all the material, had all the conversations and visited my short-listed schools. Even when I had made my application and accepted the offer. Even when I packed up my life and moved 13,000km away from home, there was still a little voice wondering whether I had made the right decision. Our introduction to the Cass MBA could not have validated my choice more.

The first three weeks were dedicated to induction. I initially thought this seemed rather vague and a little drawn out, but I was wrong. It was a valuable opportunity to learn more about myself and my cohort through personality, psychometric and strength testing. It was an opportunity to get a feel of the dynamic teaching style and exciting content we will work with. It was an opportunity to build business fundamentals like teamwork, presenting and networking skills. It was an opportunity to really think about what we want to get out of the next 12 months. It was also an opportunity to learn more about this incredible city and critically to have fun.

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I knew what I wanted to get from my MBA experience before I had chosen a school, I wanted to learn and to contribute. One of the defining traits of the people I admire, is a high degree of self-awareness, and for me that’s where learning begins. What I hope to get out of this experience are numerous opportunities to learn more about myself. Working with a group of people who have different backgrounds and life experiences forces you to acknowledge and accept that there is no such thing as the right way to do anything. The diverse student body and faculty at Cass will force us to re-evaluate the things we believe to be true. This will undoubtedly be uncomfortable, but that is how we learn.

Another key component of learning is experimentation. The opportunity to experiment is a dynamic that business school presents which is not easily replicated in the work environment. The risks associated with failure mean we often focus on proven approaches and known strengths. My hope is that the next year will provide numerous opportunities to build and test new approaches and develop latent strengths. This will undoubtedly be demanding, but that is how we learn.

Learning is not only about what happens at Cass, it is also about the extraordinary city in which it exists, and London has so much to offer the curious. Living on the doorstep of some of the world’s best theatre, sports, live performances, speakers, museums, galleries and more is why I chose London as the city to pursue my studies in. It would be a waste not to experience any of these and the question is not only how to balance this with the rigours of a demanding academic calendar, but how to use it as a part of our development. This will undoubtedly be challenging, but that is how we learn.

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Equally important to what we learn, is what we contribute. Our experiences, strengths, and passions mean we all have a lot to offer the cohort and the school. Having a meaningful, positive impact is fundamental to my definition of a successful year. Continuing to have a positive impact long after graduation is the kind of legacy I would like to leave.

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During this induction period we’ve often had to consider the question – what do you want to get out of the next year? The past few weeks have helped me distil my answer: I want to feel equipped to make a meaningful difference to everyone with whom I engage. To the people I work with and the clients we help, to the clubs I join and the charities I work with, to my family and friends. The philosopher Herbert Spencer wrote “the great aim of education is not knowledge but action”, it’s a truth I hope we all carry with us for the rest of this year and beyond.

Refilwe Maluleke
Full-time MBA (2017)

What I want to get out of my MBA

The Cass MBA program is going to be an orientation year for me. Being a local business owner in Belgium has taught me about the many facets of running a small business. This, however, is very different to business at the international and corporate level. With my MBA at Cass, I want to strengthen my knowledge in all aspects of business and get more hands on experience in different fields.

I am sure the MBA programme at Cass will help me grow as an individual. It will give me more knowledge, but, more importantly, it will give me more experience. The knowledge will put a layer of theory over the practical experience that I have. Also, the experience of our fellow students is such a valuable resource to tap into. At the forefront, it is very interesting to work with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

The international electives are another aspect of the programme I am really looking forward to. Speaking to several MBA students that have just graduated, the core consulting week to Iceland sounds fantastic. It’s a great opportunity doing a week of consultancy in an amazing country with quite a specific economic environment as a result of its small population and isolation.

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Apart from the academics and career aspect, I have high expectations on a social level. We are only a couple weeks into the course, but you get to know the people in your cohort very well, very quickly. We are going to have to work hard and closely together – as well as have plenty of (Belgian) beers together. This, I feel, will grow some very strong friendships that will last for a lifetime.

I have the same high expectations about networking opportunities that will come along our way. It’s quite exciting having the status of ‘student’ again. It opens so many doors and makes it much easier for professionals to agree to meet up. We get offered so many options to meet many people in every sector, that it becomes difficult to choose which events to attend.

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Living in Belgium means that you are pretty close to some cool cities like Paris, Amsterdam and London. So, I have had many fun trips to these cities in the past. When you come to a city like London for a couple of days, you get the ‘tourist feeling’ of a city, which was already very good. But it’s not until you actually live in a city that you get the true feel for it. Earlier this year I stayed in London for about three months when I was doing my applications for the MBA, and I absolutely fell in love with this city. It has so much to offer on every level. It’s not just a city. It’s a metropolis. The city is incredibly social. It is easy to meet new people and people in general are very friendly.

The first of August I moved to London and started my search for a place to stay. After a week and a half I found a fantastic flat in Shoreditch that I am sharing with a flatmate. It took me about two weeks to get everything sorted; a place to stay, a bank account, phone number… So there was time for a holiday before a very intense year of doing the MBA. After a week abroad I already felt like I was going back home to London.

 

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With the Cass MBA I hope to make a triple jump: change Country, change Sector and change Position. Currently my plan is to look for a career path in business development, but my eyes are wide open to explore any interesting opportunities that cross my path since I still have so many sectors to discover. A London based job is definitely an option, but I am also keen on exploring business in the rest of the world.

The Cass MBA  will give me the skill set necessary to function in senior positions, the network to make these goals happen and the opportunity to orientate myself in the direction I want to go. It will allow me to explore all fields in business and I am sure many opportunities can be created on the way.

Dries Jennen
Full-time MBA (2017)

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